Found this in the comments field on this blog post. And I know that person would never see my response, but I've got one anyways.

First, the comment:

"Yes, teachers are overpaid. Teacher’s pay ought to be commensurate their effort and and this would be measured by the student’s results. So if the student average is 60%, they ought to get paid 60% of the profile salary, the profile salary representing top performance. They should also only get paid for work actually performed. During the summer when they are not delivering results, they should get compensated accordingly. I see student failure, this is only due to teacher’s not performing their role, or performing it poorly, so they should get paid accordingly and not hide behind a union system. These slackers wouldn’t make it out in the real world, and they’re failing the kids too. So hell yeah, they are overpaid."

I'm going to deconstruct this piece by piece. First, the idea that teacher's pay ought to be commensurate with their students' results.

This is absurd for a few reasons. If teacher's pay is related soley on their students' results, then teachers are going to only teach to the test. Moreso than they already have to do. Any good teacher will tell you that teaching to the test is not real education. I could "teach" my 13-year-old sister how to compute the integral of a polynomial, but that doesn't mean she'd understand it. She'd just be a trained monkey, regurgitating without understanding. And that is NOT education.

Also, you can't have their pay be a function of 30 wild-cards. If the kids decide they don't like a teacher ("He/She's too mean!") then they can literally bankrupt him/her. Just don't perform well on standardized tests. Done.

Now, even though I don't think paying teachers based on student performance is any good, I do like the idea to give them the same percentage of a "base pay" as the average student score. Of course, as the poster said, this "base pay" would be for a perfect teacher.

Now, a perfect teacher would make a world of difference. Every kid would understand all the material perfectly. They'd be primed for success in any field. So I think a yearly salary of $150,000 is a good minimum. Again, this is the base pay, only to be doled out if the student average is 100%. But in the poster's example, he suggested 60%. Well, that's fine. I can't think of any public school teachers who wouldn't be ok with $90,000/year. Sounds fair to me. Of course, this is more than double the average teacher salary in America right now...

"They should also only be paid for work performed." Well, that actually already occurs. At least in the school district where my dad works, the teachers only get paid for the 9 or 10 months of school. A portion of that pay is deducted each month, and rolled into his "summer paychecks". So he really only delays those funds, so we still have income during summer. But he's not getting paid for doing nothing.

And, when you think about it, teachers spend much more than 8 hours a day, when you count grading tests and setting up lesson plans. So there should be some overtime... but I digress.

Apparently, teachers wouldn't make it in the "real world". But I disagree. See, in the "real world", you aren't responsible for imparting information to 30 potentially unwilling children. See, when I work on a web page (which is what I do mostly in my "real world" job), I don't really have to worry about the internet just deciding it doesn't care today. Our servers don't decide to ditch. Basically, I'm working with non-sentient things (though as anybody who's done work with technology can tell you, these things do have a mind of their own on occasion...). And that's the difference. In the "real world", when you go to solve a problem, and you come up with a solution, that's that. It's done. You don't need to suddenly teach a bunch of uninterested people how to replicate what you've done. Or how to understand it.

But that's the crux of education. It's showing them things, giving them tools, and then TEACHING them how to use them. How to think. How to come up with unique solutions. We're not programming robots, we're teaching students.

Anybody who thinks a teacher couldn't last in the "real world" should try this challenge: find a teacher who is qualified to do what you do (i.e. if you're a journalist, find an english teacher), and switch with them. See how well you can teach a class. I'm quite sure that you'll find yourself struggling with teaching far more than the teacher will be with your job (though I will concede that some jobs ARE far above what teachers would be able to do... not many public school teachers could pass as brain surgeons, for example).

But even to respond to my concession above: if your job requires some kind of specialized instruction, then yeah, a teacher wouldn't last very long doing it. Unless they got the same specialized instruction. I would be willing to wager money that if you took somebody from the "real world", provided them with educational instruction, and swapped them with a teacher who likewise got appropriate education, the teacher would fare better overall.


Courtney said...

i enjoy your rants. and am still waiting to be skyped. you of all people should have figured out this technology by now.

much love


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